Skip to main content

Italy's Parliament votes for new president

By Hada Messia. Laura Smith-Spark and Ben Wedeman, CNN
updated 11:37 AM EDT, Thu April 18, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Center-left, center-right appear to be backing the same candidate: Franco Marini
  • Members of Italy's Parliament are casting votes for a new president
  • The seven-year term of incumbent Giorgio Napolitano expires next month
  • Italy has been in political gridlock since a general election in February

Rome (CNN) -- Italy's Parliament began casting votes Thursday for a new president to take the place of the incumbent Giorgio Napolitano, whose term expires next month.

The election of a new president could be the first step toward solving a political impasse that has gripped Italy since February's general election left a three-way split between the right, the left and a wild-card party.

The presidential voting process is open to 1,007 elected representatives: the 630 deputies in the lower house, 315 senators plus four senators-for-life, and 58 regional delegates.

The secret ballot is taking place inside the Chamber of Deputies, or lower house of Parliament.

Italy laughing through political pain

Usually the senators vote first, then the deputies, then the regional delegates. They can vote for any citizen over 50 with full civil and political rights.

After counting for the first round wrapped up, former trade union leader Franco Marini was in the lead with 521 votes but short of the two-thirds majority, or 672 votes, needed to win the presidency.

The center-left coalition led by politician Pier Luigi Bersani and the center-right coalition of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi appeared to be coming together to back Marini.

This would indicate a degree of cooperation between the two blocs, which might allow some kind of alliance to be formed.

In second place was Stefano Rodota, a former Italian Communist Party lawmaker and law professor, with 240 votes.

Former Turin Mayor Sergio Chiamparino received 41 votes. Berlusconi's ex-wife, Veronica lario, received one vote, despite expressing no desire to be president.

According to the Italian Constitution, a two-thirds majority of the electors is needed in the first three rounds of voting. From the fourth session onward, the bar is lowered to an absolute majority, equal to 504 votes.

A second round of voting will take place later Thursday.

Napolitano's seven-year term expires on May 15.

While the Italian presidency is largely a ceremonial role, it can become a critical one in times of political crisis.

The issue has been that, under the constitution, the Italian president cannot dissolve Parliament and call for new elections in the last six months of his mandate.

The election of a new president could help move Italy out of its current political gridlock.

Bersani fared the best in the February elections by leading a leftist coalition dominated by his Democratic Party to a small majority in the lower house of Parliament, but has been unable to form a government.

Power in the Senate, where it counts, was divided between Bersani and Berlusconi's center-right coalition, anchored by his party, Popolo della Liberta, or People of Freedom.

Bersani and Berlusconi are archrivals who have previously indicated they will not work together. The wild-card party of Beppe Grillo, the grass-roots Five-Star Movement, will also not enter into an alliance.

CNN's Hada Messia and Ben Wedeman reported from Rome, and Laura Smith-Spark reported and wrote from London.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:47 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
updated 9:24 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Hamas: "Lift the siege." Israel: "End the rockets." The two sides' demands will be difficult to reconcile.
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
CNN's Richard Quest speaks to Malaysia Airlines' Hugh Dunleavy about how the airline industry needs to react to MH17.
updated 4:42 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
From Maastricht to Melbourne, and baroque theaters to block-long warehouses, these stores make bookish travelers look stylish.
updated 10:27 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Hamas' tactics have changed -- now the group is using commando-like tactics, says CNN's Ben Wedeman.
updated 2:09 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
A California homeowner's nightmare has become a cautionary tale for those who rent their homes to strangers.
updated 2:57 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
A nun, an AIDS researcher, an athlete and a family traveling on summer vacation. These were some of the victims aboard MH17.
updated 8:21 PM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Prince George isn't your average one year old. He started walking before he was one. Oh, and, he's going to be king -- of 16 countries.
updated 7:36 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Former President Bill Clinton acknowledges he got "very close" to helping achieve peace in the Middle East.
updated 2:21 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
In an ambitious plan to upgrade urban India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he will build 100 "smart cities" across the country.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT